Thousands of road-safety breaches by lorry drivers leads to police campaign

More than 30,000 fines have had to be issued by Dubai Police in the first six months of this year, leading them to try to raise lorry driver awareness of road safety.

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, February 4, 2013: 
The remnants of a truck are hauled away from the scene of a tragic traffic accident, which involved a truck and a bus full of laborers and has left 22 people dead and sent many to a hospital, on Monday early evening, Feb. 4, 2013, at the scene of the accident, about 35km from Al Ain on the Abu Dhabi - Al Ain road. The accident happened at 7:30am as the bus, loaded with 45 workers, 95 percent of which were reported Bangladeshi, carried the people to their work at a nearby palace. The bus travelers were employees of the Al Hakeem Decorations and have worked at the palace as maintenance crew.
Silvia Razgova / The National
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More than 30,000 fines have been issued to lorry drivers in Dubai in the first six months of this year alone for not abiding by road safety rules.

Police on Tuesday launched a one-month lorry driver safety campaign in a bid to reduce the number serious accidents and deaths involving heavy-goods vehicles. So far this year there have been 14 serious accidents and 15 deaths involving HGVs on Dubai roads.

A lack of discipline, using worn-out tyres and fatigue are two major factors being addressed by the campaign, which is being run in conjunction between Dubai Police’s Traffic Department and the Roads and Transport Authority.

The fines total amounts to about one fine for every second lorry registered in Dubai.

“Lorry drivers who drive for long hours and ignore rest areas will cause major accidents,” said Col Essam Al Awr, director of the fine section and traffic services at Dubai Police.

“Fifteen people have died during the first half of this year. Last year saw 40 lorry crashes that resulted in 49 deaths, compared to 29 fatalities caused by 25 accidents in 2015.

Ramon Peñas / The National

“Some 30,664 fines have been issued during the first half of this year, while 30,785 fines were issued in 2016, compared to 24,255 fines in 2015.”

Col Al Awr said that such traffic violations can lead to the death of lorry drivers, their passengers and other commuters.

“Several sessions will be conducted with lorry drivers in their break areas to educate them about traffic safety and the new fines for traffic violations targeting lorry drivers after the traffic law amendment,” he said.

New fines will be highlighted in pamphlets handed out to drivers. Among them is a Dh1,500 fine for HGV drivers that do not stick to their lane, a Dh1,000 fine for entering prohibited areas or roads designated for vehicles and a fine of Dh5,000 for parking on the road or in areas where lorries are not allowed to park.

Col Al Awr said the road-safety campaign will be carried out in three phases.

“The first will target the drivers of lorries positioned in rest areas in Al Muhaisnah, around the vegetable market and Al Khawaneej,” he said.

“The second phase will target drivers at RTA registration centres, while the third and last phase will be dedicated to issuing fines to truck drivers violating the new traffic rule amendments.”

Police said they had received almost 500 complaints against lorry drivers via the Dubai Police app last year and that 17 lorry licences had been withdrawn in the first six months of this year.

Adel Al Marzouqi, director of the right-of-way department at the RTA, highlighted the number of HGVs on the roads when he said that 1,000 to 1,200 lorries pass along Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road during peak hours each day.

“There are 66,864 lorries that belong to 6,100 companies registered in Dubai,” he said, adding that HGVs have been seen operating on roads at times when they are not allowed, such as on Al Khail Road.

“Transport or lorry company owners must repeatedly check the heavy vehicles and be sure it’s safe to be driven,” Mr Al Marzouqi said.

He added that there are 12 rest stops for lorry drivers on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Emirates Road and the E44, with six more currently under construction.

Serious lorry crashes

It was only just over two months ago when seven people were killed and 35 others injured in a bus-lorry crash in Dubai. Four of the victims were Indian, two Nepalese and one was Pakistani. Police said at the time that the bus driver lost control after a tyre blow-out and he ended up colliding with a lorry on the opposite side of the road.

Back in March, a lorry driver was trapped in his vehicle after colliding with another vehicle on Dubai-Al Ain road but police managed to rescue him and he lived.

In the same month another lorry driver was severely injured after he lost control and hit a lamppost on Al Dhaid Road in Sharjah. Police said the cause of the accident was speeding and sudden swerving.

In August last year an Emirati driver was killed and his two passengers seriously injured when a lorry crashed into their vehicle in Masafi. The Asian lorry driver took a fast U-turn without checking the road and caused the collision.

And in July last year, seven people were killed and 13 injured when a minibus ploughed into a lorry that was sat stationary in the middle of the Emirates Road, near Al Maktoum Airport. The lorry was stopped in the third lane from the right after crashing into a pick-up truck.